Season: 3-5 , Episodes: 49, Faction: The Others/Survivors
Dr. Juliet Burke (née Carlson) was a fertility specialist who was recruited to the Island by Richard Alpert. On the Island, she tried to solve the fertility problems, but was unsuccessful. She had an affair with Goodwin, until a jealous Ben sent him to the Tailies, where one of them killed him.
After the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, Juliet was sent as a mole to the Survivors camp, however Juliet betrayed the Others and chose to stay with the survivors. Jack and Juliet became very close, until Jack and five others escaped on the helicopter from the Kahana. After the Oceanic 6 left, however, Juliet, along with Sawyer, Locke, Jin, Daniel, Miles and Charlotte began to randomly skip through time. After Locke turned the Wheel, and Charlotte died, the other survivors settled in 1974 with the DHARMA Initiative for three years with Sawyer, who she was in a relationship with, Jin and Miles until Jack, Kate and Hurley returned.
Knowing their cover was blown, Juliet helped Jack with his plan to change the past. As she, Sawyer, Kate and Miles aided Jack at the Swan site, she got pulled into the shaft. Down the shaft, she noticed the bomb, and in a desperate attempt to save everyone’s lives, she detonated it. The explosion sent the survivors to 2007, where Sawyer tried to save her, but was unsuccessful, and she died in his arms. With Miles Straume acting as a medium over her grave, she told Sawyer “It worked”, although Sawyer didn’t know what she meant by this.
In the flash-sideways, she was reunited with her lover, James Ford and along with their friends, they moved on.
5×17 – The Incident, Part 2
Juliet’s family moved frequently. Her parents divorced when Juliet was a child, after difficulties which her older sister Rachel noticed. The divorce affected Juliet, particularly her outlook on relationships. (“The Incident, Part 2”)
3×07 – Not in Portland
Juliet received a medical degree, specializing in obstetrics and fertility. She married Edmund Burke, and though they split up, he continued to control her. She worked under his tight control at the Miami Central University Medical Research Laboratory, where he flaunted his affairs with coworkers in front of her. She even managed to impregnate a male mouse, though it didn’t carry to term.
She conducted her most important research though in private on Rachel, whose cancer treatment had left her infertile. With Juliet’s help, Rachel conceived, and Juliet kept this private for her sister’s sake.
Richard Alpert approached her with a job offer from Mittelos Bioscience. The opportunity intrigued her, and one particular medical puzzle, a young woman whose uterus looked 70 years old, convinced her she wanted to accept. But Edmund would object unless, she joked, a bus hit him. A bus did hit him soon after, right as he confronted her about Rachel. Richard and his associate then successfully recruited her, promising to return her in time for Rachel’s delivery. (“Not in Portland”)
3×16 – One of Us
The job turned out to be “not quite in Portland” though, and she had to take a submarine, tranquilized, to get there – to the Island. (“One of Us”)
On the Island
3×16 – One of Us
Juliet’s early attempts to save the island’s pregnant women failed. While crying after the death of one of the women, she met Goodwin, a worker at The Tempest station, and treated him for chemical burns. He comforted her after the death of a second woman as well, and eventually the two began a relationship. (“One of Us”)
4×06 – The Other Woman
Soon after arriving on the island, Juliet began seeing a therapist named Harper Stanhope, who also happened to be Goodwin’s wife. During one session, Harper revealed to Juliet that she knew of her affair with Goodwin. She warned Juliet to stop the affair, stating that she was worried about what would happen to Goodwin if Ben found out.
Harper’s concern, it turned out, was warranted. Ben had quickly become obsessed with Juliet, associating her with his mother. He met her as soon as she came to the island and gave her her own house within a week. Juliet asked several times to be let off the island, but every time Ben refused, even after the three months that Juliet had originally agreed to be on the island had passed. In order to get her to stay, Ben told her that her sister’s cancer had returned, but, if Juliet continued her work on the island, he would cure Rachel. (“The Other Woman”)
Mx12 – The Envelope | 3×01 – A Tale of Two Cities
Three years later, however, Ben himself was diagnosed with cancer, which convinced Juliet he’d lied about being able to cure Rachel. She prepared to share his x-rays with a friend, but her book club’s arrival interrupted them. The club discussed her favorite book, one Ben didn’t like, but the group dispersed when a plane crashed on the island. (“The Envelope”) (“A Tale of Two Cities”)
After the crash
4×06 – The Other Woman
Ben sent Goodwin to infiltrate the new survivors’ camp, and Harper and Juliet exchanged glances. (“The Other Woman”)
3×16 – One of Us
Ben then showed Juliet live footage in the Flame of Rachel, alive and healthy, with her toddler son. She was overjoyed, and she again asked to return home, but Ben said she must stay for future research. The two began dining together, and he tried to turn her off Goodwin by suggesting he’d grown close to one of the survivors. Then 27 to 44 days after the plane crash, when Juliet tried showing him a file on a spinal surgeon from the plane, Ben led her to Goodwin’s dead body. He said he’d deliberately sent Goodwin on a suicide mission, knowing of their affair. He claimed Juliet as his own. Despite the awkwardness between them, they continued working together. (“One of Us”)
3×14 – Exposé
They spied on survivors in the Swan together from the Pearl, and Ben confided his plan to kidnap Jack, Kate and Sawyer. (“Exposé”)
Mobisode x06 – Room 23
Juliet helped take care of two children that the Others kidnapped. She also oversaw Walt’s care when they kidnapped him, and when she noticed his odd abilities, she suggested they return him to Michael. (“Room 23”)
Mobisode x04 – The Deal
Later, when they kidnapped Michael too, she told him Walt was “special” and that they’d return him and give Michael a boat. She told Walt about the deal she’d made with Ben, and compared her sister with his for Walt. (“The Deal”)
3×01 – A Tale of Two Cities
The Others kidnapped Jack, Kate and Sawyer. Ben exploited Juliet’s resemblance to Jack’s ex-wife, telling her to visit, feed and grow close to him. Despite this, Jack attacked her, opening one of the underwater cell’s hatches against her warning. The corridor flooded, and Ben locked them inside to drown. They escaped though, and Juliet kept visiting her prisoner. (“A Tale of Two Cities”)
3×02 – The Glass Ballerina
Juliet oversaw Kate and Sawyer’s manual labor, holding a gun on Kate when Sawyer tried escaping. (“The Glass Ballerina”)
3×04 – Every Man for Himself
Jack referenced Ben’s authority over her, and, perhaps piqued by this suggestion, Juliet freed him to operate on an injured Colleen. Juliet, not a surgeon, couldn’t save her alone. The patient died despite Jack’s efforts, but he saw Ben’s x-rays in the operating room. (“Every Man for Himself”)
3×05 – The Cost of Living
Ben confronted her at Colleen’s funeral about her oversight.
He made her ask Jack to operate on him, but she secretly played a videotape asking him to kill Ben during surgery. (“The Cost of Living”)
3×06 – I Do
To persuade him, she threatened to kill Sawyer and made Kate tell Jack. Jack slit Ben’s kidney sac in surgery, but rather than kill him, he revealed Juliet’s plan and blackmailed the Others into freeing Kate and Sawyer. (“I Do”)
3×07 – Not in Portland
Juliet called his bluff, saying he wouldn’t deliberately let a patient die. She ordered the Others to capture Kate and Sawyer and kill them if necessary. She changed her attitude, however, after Ben privately told her he’d let her leave the island if she helped them escape. She caught up with them, and she killed Pickett when he refused to let them go. She let Kate call Jack to confirm their safety and let them row to the main island, but she told Ben’s daughter, who’d helped them, that she had to stay. (“Not in Portland”)
3×09 – Stranger in a Strange Land
The Others imprisoned Juliet for Pickett’s murder, and she later visited Jack, who refused to examine Ben’s stitches. Jack testified for Juliet in front of the Other’s sheriff, who saw through his lies and sentenced Juliet to death. Jack saved Ben though in exchange for Juliet’s life, and they merely marked her as punishment. Jack treated her wound and they sailed with the Others to the Barracks. (“Stranger in a Strange Land”)
3×13 – The Man from Tallahassee
True to his word, Ben arranged Jack and Juliet’s passage on the submarine, but hours before their departure, Locke, Sayid and Kate arrived to save Jack, and Locke destroyed the submarine with C-4. Ben then gave Juliet a mission: enter the survivors’ camp, help Claire after her implant activated, gain their trust and help the Others kidnap their pregnant women. (“The Man from Tallahassee”)
3×15 – Left Behind
The Others gassed the camp and left, and Juliet handcuffed herself to Kate and pretended they’d left her behind. Kate attacked her and dislocated her arm. The Monster then chased them into some trees, and it “scanned” them. Juliet claimed not to know what it was, but the next day, she repelled it with the sonic barrier. They freed Jack and Sayid at the Barracks. Kate and Sayid objected to bringing Juliet to their camp, but Jack was adamant that she join them. (“Left Behind”)
3×16 – One of Us
The camp treated Juliet with suspicion; she only spoke with Hurley, whom the camp chose to watch her. When Ben activated Claire’s implant, Juliet blamed withdrawal from a drug she’d developed. She left to recover the medicine from a supposed cache, and Sayid and Sawyer accosted her on the way about her intentions. She used background knowledge of them to assert moral superiority. She feigned treating Claire with the supplies, and Jack helped her set up a tent. (“One of Us”)
3×18 – D.O.C. | Mx05 – Operation: Sleeper
Another pregnant survivor soon asked Juliet’s help, and Juliet took Sun to the Staff for a sonogram. She learned Sun had conceived on the island, so would die like the last nine expectant mothers she’d examined. She recorded a tape for Ben about Sun’s condition, also saying she’d sample Kate’s blood next. But after she switched the tape off, she added, “I hate you,” and she soon confided fully in Jack. The two recruited Danielle to fetch dynamite to fight the Others. (“D.O.C.”) (“Operation: Sleeper”)
3×19 – The Brig
Later, Kate told Jack about a woman’s arrival to the island, and Juliet suggested they tell her Ben’s plan. Jack refused. (“The Brig”)
3×20 – The Man Behind the Curtain
Sawyer then found her tape, and Juliet played its other side, showing Ben’s full plan. She and Jack then shared their own plan. (“The Man Behind the Curtain”)
3×21 – Greatest Hits
Sayid wanted to use Naomi’s phone to call her boat, and Juliet explained the Looking Glass jammed all signals. (“Greatest Hits”)
She started toward the radio tower with Jack to turn off the distress signal, then split to join Sawyer as he went back to the beach to help Sayid, Bernard and Jin. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”)
Hiding at the beach, Juliet and Sawyer tried to form a plan, but Hurley intervened with the DHARMA van. Juliet then turned a gun on Tom forcing him to surrender. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 2”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
Hathor’s name means either ‘House of Horus‘, implying an early and exclusive association with Horus either as consort or son, or ‘High/Heavenly House’. Even if the latter was originally the case, Hathor’s name comes to be written exclusively in the form incorporating the name of Horus. Perhaps the most ubiquitous of Egyptian Goddesses, Hathor is the preeminent solar Goddess in the Egyptian pantheon as well as the Goddess of beauty, sexuality, pleasure, intoxication and ecstasy, music and dance, as well as foreign lands and the luxury goods imported from them. She is also the chief executive of Re, his so-called ‘Eye’—irt, a pun on ir.t, ‘doer’ or ‘agent’. The most active element in the solar nature is always represented in Egypt as feminine, and Hathor shares the title of ‘Eye of Re’ with other Goddesses such as Sekhmet, Tefnut, and Wadjet, to name just a few, but in the breadth of her functions Hathor perhaps embodies it to the highest degree. Hathor is depicted as a woman wearing a headdress with the solar disk, uraeus and cow’s horns, as well as a red headband; or in bovine form, wearing a solar disk, uraeus and two plumes between her horns and often the menit (or menat), Hathor’s characteristic necklace. The bovine Hathor is typically shown emerging from a papyrus thicket, which evokes the role of the Hathor-cow as wetnurse of Horus when he was hidden in the marshes. The eye of the bovine Hathor is often rendered in the form of the wedjat, the composite human/hawk/cheetah eye associated with Horus. A very distinctive mode of depicting Hathor, which seems to have been transferred to Hathor from the Goddess Bat, occurs atop columns or adorning sistra, showing her by face alone, frontal, with cow’s ears. In these depictions Hathor does not wear a headband, but a thick wig or natural hair bound by fillets, Hathor’s beautiful hair being one of her important attributes. Hathor is associated with two objects in particular: the rattle or sistrum and the menit, a necklace of turquoise beads with an elaborate counterpoise. One theory as to the function of the sistrum (zesh’shet) is that its noise resembles the rustling of papyrus in the marsh, one of Hathor’s major festivals being that of ‘rustling the papyrus’ (zesh’sh wadju) (Bleeker, 88). Substances with which Hathor is particularly associated are gold—’the Golden’ is a common epithet of hers—and turquoise, both perhaps evoking the sky. Although especially associated with sexuality and with bringing lovers together, Hathor is also strongly associated with maternity, and a group of ‘seven Hathors’ is mentioned as prophesying at the individual’s birth (e.g., in the folktales of The Doomed Prince and The Two Brothers (trans. in Lichtheim vol. 2). Hathor is herself the mother of Ihy as well as Harsomtus, ‘Horus the Uniter of the [Two] Lands’, a cosmogonic form of Horus.
Hathor can be regarded as either mother or consort of Horus, as well as mother, consort or daughter of Re, and can be posited in similar relationships to any number of other Gods of the pantheon, none of these relationships being exclusive, even—indeed, especially—those instances in which she is mother, consort and daughter at once of the same God, for Hathor embodies in a certain sense the very activity or presence of the Gods with whom she is most intimately involved. A spell in the Coffin Texts for “Becoming Hathor” (CT spell 331) affirms, “I am Hathor who brings her Horus and who proclaims her Horus … I am she who displays his beauty and assembles his powers … Truly I am she who made his name.” That this role governing manifestation extends, in some sense, to the rest of the Gods is implied when the Goddess affirms, in the same spell, “there is no limit to my vision, there are none who can encircle my arms … I am the uraeus who lives on truth, who lifts up the faces of all the Gods, and all the Gods are beneath my feet.” Such statements are typical of Egyptian hymns, which generally seek to express that unique sense in which the deity in question is indeed supreme; what is important in each case is the nature of the supremacy, its specificity, not the generality of the attribution of supremacy to each and every God or Goddess, which is a virtual ritual requirement. In the case of Hathor, her supremacy derives particularly from her association with beauty itself. Thus a hymn invokes Hathor as “the beautiful, the lovely one, who stands at the head of the house of the beautiful; the Gods turn their heads away in order to see her better,” (Bleeker, 26).
Hathor’s most important roles in myth are as the nubile daughter and victorious enforcer of Re, on the one hand, and as the wet-nurse and consort of Horus, on the other. Her roles as mother of Re and of Horus seem more metaphorical than mythic, but they are commonplaces of Egyptian theology. Hathor is a sky Goddess, but is distinguishable from Nut inasmuch as Nut is the sky (or, rather, the divinity immanent in the sky) whereas Hathor resides in the sky. Although the bovine Hathor, on account of Hathor’s association with the sky, is often identified with the celestial cow who is, strictly speaking, Mehet-Weret, Hathor’s cow is more characteristically a wild cow of the marshes. This is vividly conveyed by a reported epiphany of Hathor in which a cowherd, tending his herd in the marsh, sees Hathor in the form of a naked woman with disheveled hair and, frightened, urges his herd homeward out of the marsh (Bleeker, 39). Living sacred cows of Hathor were kept at several sites in Egypt, perhaps the most important one being at Momemphis in the southwest Delta, who was known as ‘She who remembers Horus’, alluding to the myth in which the Hathor-cow suckles the infant Horus in the marsh. The pharaoh may be depicted being suckled by the Hathor-cow as a symbol of the transmission of sovereignty, or encircled by the Hathor-cow’s menit necklace as a symbol of divine charisma. The office of the pharaoh involves a tight bond with Hathor, and part of the reason why so many other Goddesses may be identified with Hathor to varying degrees is because of Hathor’s tendency to absorb the functions of other deities insofar as they touch upon this office. Hathor is depicted presiding over the pharaoh’s birth, suckling him either in her bovine or human form, presiding over his rejuvenation at the heb-sed festival, and ensuring his resurrection after death. In turn, as the symbols appropriate to the pharaoh are increasingly taken up by commoners over the course of Egyptian history, Hathor’s role in relation to the pharaoh is generalized.
In the Book of the Celestial Cow, when Re, who has grown elderly reigning as immanent sovereign upon the earth, learns that humans are conspiring in rebellion, he sends Hathor, as his enforcing ‘Eye’, to strike the humans and kill them “in the desert lands,” a task which she reports back to Re as having been “sweet for my heart,” (Piankoff, 28). Hathor can be Goddess of pleasure and executrix of divine wrath at once because she embodies the potency of solar divinity as such. The term used in this text for the place where Hathor strikes the humans is significant, inasmuch as it can mean either a high place in the desert or a necropolis, and Hathor was strongly associated with the western desert as the land of the setting sun and the entrance to the netherworld, and is often identified with Amentet, the personification of Amenti, the western or ‘Hidden’ land, bearing the sign for the west on her head. One of the important festivals of Hathor was the ‘beautiful festival of the desert valley’, in which banqueting, dancing and other festivities at the necropolis sought to bring joy to all the dead there interred. It was also common in later times for deceased women in personalized copies of the afterlife literature to be referred to as ‘Hathor N.’, the same way that deceased men and women alike are referred to as ‘Osiris N.’.
Another important mythic episode involving Hathor occurs in the Conflict of Horus and Seth. When Re’s efficacy has been called into question by the phallic God Babi, who taunts him with the phrase, “Your shrine is empty,” Re withdraws from the divine tribunal over which he is presiding and which is to decide whether to award the kingship to Horus or to Seth. Hathor, bearing here the epithet “Lady of the southern sycamore,” (Lichtheim vol. 2, 216), lifts Re’s spirits and induces him to return and convene the tribunal again by displaying her genitalia to him. By awakening the desire of the demiurge, Hathor acts as the engine driving the cosmogonic process. Barguet 1953 remarks on the similarity in shape between the counterpoise of the menit-necklace and certain wooden plaques found in certain tombs of the 11th dynasty which depict in simplified fashion a woman displaying her genitalia, and which are perhaps the basis for the elaborate forms taken by later menit counterpoises. Later in the Conflict, when Horus has had his eyes gouged out by Seth, Hathor, again characterized as “Mistress of the southern sycamore,” milks a gazelle and pours the milk into his eyes, healing them. In this way the same function of cosmic regeneration is expressed in radically different symbolic forms linked by the common epithet borne by the Goddess in the two episodes.
The word menit, with the boat determinative rather than the necklace and counterpoise, means a mooring-post, and the verbal form mni, “to moor”, has a range of metaphorical uses. The association between Hathor’s necklace and symbolic mooring-ropes appears to be exploited in CT spell 753, which refers repeatedly to the “bark of Hathor”, the operator wishing that he might “lift up the mooring-ropes, for I have tied the knot for Hathor,” (Gosline 1994, 42-5).
Texts also allude to a myth in which Hathor suffers an attack of some kind upon her hair. Hathor’s beautiful hair is indicated by her epithets “Lady of the tress” or “She of the tress,” and scenes of hairdressing have sometimes been interpreted as alluding to the cult of Hathor. In a fragmentary spell from the Ramesseum Papyrus (XI), the operator declares “My heart is for you… as the heart of Horus is for his eye, Seth for his testicles, Hathor for her tress, Thoth for his shoulder,” thus placing the episode of Hathor and her tress alongside other well-known episodes in which some distinctive part of a deity suffers injury: Horus, as a hawk, is distinctive for his eyesight, while Seth’s sexual appetite is essential to him. The myth involving an injury to Thoth’s “shoulder” is not well understood, but it may refer to the wing of the ibis. In attempting to reconstruct the myth concerning Hathor’s tress, Georges Posener compares it to a similar incident in the Egyptian novelette The Two Brothers, in which a supernatural female, suggestive in certain respects of Hathor, is walking by the sea when it surges up toward her out of desire for her. She runs away, and the sea commands a pine tree by the shore to seize her, but it only manages to pull off a lock of her hair, which is carried by the sea to the place where the pharaoh’s wash is being done. The pharaoh, smelling the delightful fragrance coming from the lock of hair, decides to seek out the woman it came from. This tale also strongly resembles a myth involving Astarte. Another tale which may echo the lost myth involving Hathor’s hair is found in the Westcar Papyrus (5, 7). The pharaoh Sneferu goes boating on a lake with twenty beautiful women as his rowers. The leader of the rowers, while fingering her braids, accidentally causes a turquoise ornament to drop from her hair into the water. The magician Djadja-em-ankh parts the waters and retrieves the ornament, to the pharaoh’s great satisfaction.
Hathor is also said to reunite Atum with his children Shu and Tefnut in CT spell 331, and a text from Dendara (Chassinat IV, 233-234; discussed in Daumas 1951, 381f) connects this with the presentation to Hathor of a necklace of nine lotus petals, representing the Ennead, or idealized totality of the Gods. In the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus (xxvii), this reunion, effected here by Atum’s personified ‘Eye’, results in the creation of humanity from Atum’s joyful tears, a play on the words remi, ‘tears’, and romi, ‘humans’. Sometimes Hathor is depicted with four faces, in which case she is particularly identified as ‘Temit’ (or ‘Temet’), the feminine counterpart of Atum or an epithet meaning ‘the universal one’: “How beautiful is your visage when you appear as Hathor with these four faces that Re loves to see. Turn you your visage toward the west, Temit is the Lady of Saïs. Turn you your visage toward the east, Temit is the Lady of Bubastis. Turn you your visage toward the north, Temit is Wadjet, Lady of Pe and Dep, Lady of Life at Pe and Dep, Wadjet who makes life flourish. Turn you your visage toward the south, Temit is Nekhbet, Lady of Nekheb, at the head of the beautiful ones who are found among the followers of the bark of Re and in the bark of Khepri when you open the northern sky,” (Papyrus Chester Beatty VIII, in Derchain 1972, 4).
Patron of: the sky, the sun, the queen, music, dance and the arts.
Appearance: A cow bearing the sun disk between her horns, or a woman in queenly raiment wearing the sun disk and horns on her head. Depictions of her as a woman with a cow’s head do not occur until later periods.
Description: Hathor is a very ancient goddess, dating to predynastic times. When dynastic rule began, as Horus was associated with the king, Hathor was with the queen. Her name translates to “The House of Horus,” and so she is associated with the royal family. But also, as the entire world could be said to be the House of Horus, Hathor can be seen as the mother-goddess of the whole world, similar to Isis.
Hathor’s cult is unusual, as both men and women were her priests (most deities had clerics of the same gender as they). Many of them were artisans, musicians, and dancers who turned their talents into creating rituals that were nothing short of works of art. Music and dance were part of the worship of Hathor like no other deity in Egypt. Hathor herself was the incarnation of dance, and stories were told of how Hathor danced before Ra when he was in despair to cheer him up.
Inspiration was also Hathor’s bailiwick, and many would come to the temples of Hathor to have their dreams explained or to beseech her for her aid in creation, much in the same way the Greeks invoked the Nine Muses.
Worship: Worshipped throughout all of Egypt, her cult center was at Dendera in Upper Egypt.
Hathor (ḥwt-ḥr, Egyptian for Horus’s enclosure), was an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshiped by Royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.
The cult of Hathor pre-dates the historical period and the roots of devotion to her are, therefore, difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults who venerated the fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.
Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with head horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.
The Ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge together for various reasons, whilst retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Isis, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast.
The cult of Osiris promised eternal life to those deemed morally worthy. Originally the justified dead, male or female, became an Osiris but by early Roman times females became identified with Hathor and men with Osiris.
The Ancient Greeks identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite and the Romans as Venus.
Hathor is not unambiguously depicted until the 4th dynasty. In the historical era Hathor is shown using the imagery of a cow deity. Artifacts from pre-dynastic times depict cow deities using the same symbolism as used in later times for Hathor and Egyptologists speculate that these deities may be one and the same or precursors to Hathor.
A cow deity appears on the belt of the King on the Narmer Palette dated to the pre-dynastic era, and this may be Hathor or, in another guise, the goddess Bat with whom she is linked and later supplanted. At times they are regarded as one and the same goddess, though likely having separate origins, and reflections of the same divine concept. The evidence pointing to the deity being Hathor in particular is based on a passage from the Pyramid texts which states that the Kings apron comes from Hathor.
A stone urn recovered from Hierakonpolis and dated to the 1st dynasty has on its rim the face of a cow deity with stars on its ears and horns that may relate to Hathor’s, or Bat’s, role as a sky-goddess. Another artifact from the 1st dynasty shows a cow lying down on an ivory engraving with the inscription “Hathor in the Marshes..” indicating her association with vegetation and the papyrus marsh in particular. From the Old Kingdom she was also called “Lady of the Sycamore” in her capacity as a tree deity.
Relationships, associations, images and symbols
Hathor had a complex relationship with Ra, in one myth she is his eye and considered his daughter but later, when Ra assumes the role of Horus with respect to Kingship, she is considered Ra’s mother. She absorbed this role from another cow goddess ‘Mht wrt’ (“Great flood”) who was the mother of Ra in a creation myth and carried him between her horns. As a mother she gave birth to Ra each morning on the eastern horizon and as wife she conceives through union with him each day.
Hathor along with the goddess Nut was associated with the Milky Way during the third millennium B.C. when, during the fall and spring equinoxes, it aligned over and touched the earth where the sun rose and fell. The four legs of the celestial cow represented Nut or Hathor could, in one account, be seen as the pillars on which the sky was supported with the stars on their bellies constituting the milky way on which the solar barque of Ra, representing the sun, sailed. An alternate name for Hathor, which persisted for 3,000 years, was Mehturt (also spelt Mehurt, Mehet-Weren’t, and Mehet-uret), meaning ‘great flood, a direct reference to her being the milky way. The Milky Way was seen as a waterway in the heavens, sailed upon by both the sun deity and the moon, leading the ancient Egyptians to describe it as The Nile in the Sky. Due to this, and the name mehturt, she was identified as responsible for the yearly inundation of the Nile. Another consequence of this name is that she was seen as a herald of imminent birth, as when the amniotic sac breaks and floods its waters, it is a medical indicator that the child is due to be born extremely soon. Another interpretation of the Milky Way was that it was the primal snake, Wadjet, the protector of Egypt who was closely associated with Hathor and other early deities among the various aspects of the great mother goddess, including Mut and Naunet. Hathor also was favoured as a protector in desert regions (see Serabit el-Khadim). Hathor’s identity as a cow, perhaps depicted as such on the Narmer Palette, meant that she became identified with another ancient cow-goddess of fertility, Bat. It still remains an unanswered question amongst Egyptologists as to why Bat survived as an independent goddess for so long. Bat was, in some respects, connected to the Ba, an aspect of the soul, and so Hathor gained an association with the afterlife. It was said that, with her motherly character, Hathor greeted the souls of the dead in Duat, and proffered them with refreshments of food and drink. She also was described sometimes as mistress of the necropolis. The assimilation of Bat, who was associated with the sistrum, a musical instrument, brought with it an association with music. In this later form, Hathor’s cult became centred in Dendera in Upper Egypt and it was led by priestesses and priests who also were dancers, singers, and other entertainers.
Hathor also became associated with the menat, the turquoise musical necklace often worn by women. A hymn to Hathor says:
Thou art the Mistress of Jubilation, the Queen of the Dance, the Mistress of Music, the Queen of the Harp Playing, the Lady of the Choral Dance, the Queen of Wreath Weaving, the Mistress of Inebriety Without End.
Essentially, Hathor had become a goddess of joy, and so she was deeply loved by the general population, and truly revered by women, who aspired to embody her multifaceted role as wife, mother, and lover. In this capacity, she gained the titles of Lady of the House of Jubilation, and The One Who Fills the Sanctuary with Joy. The worship of Hathor was so popular that a lot of festivals were dedicated to her honor than any other Egyptian deity, and more children were named after this goddess than any other deity. Even Hathor’s priesthood was unusual, in that both women and men became her priests.
As Hathor’s cult developed from prehistoric cow cults it is not possible to say conclusively where devotion to her first took place. Dendera in Upper Egypt was a significant early site where she was worshiped as “Mistress of Dendera”. From the Old Kingdom era she had cult sites in Meir and Kusae with the Giza-Saqqara area perhaps being the centre of devotion. At the start of the first Intermediate period Dendera appears to have become the main cult site where she was considered to be the mother as well as the consort of “Horus of Edfu”. Deir el-Bahri, on the west bank of Thebes, was also an important site of Hathor that developed from a pre-existing cow cult.
Temples (and chapels) dedicated to Hathor:
- The Temple of Hathor and Maat at Deir el-Medina, West Bank, Luxor.
- The Temple of Hathor at Philae Island, Aswan.
- The Hathor Chapel at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. WestBank, Luxor.
The Middle Kingdom was founded when Upper Egypt’s pharaoh, Mentuhotep II, took control over Lower Egypt, which had become independent during the First Intermediate Period, by force. This unification had been achieved by a brutal war that was to last some twenty-eight years with many casualties, but when it ceased, calm returned, and the reign of the next pharaoh, Mentuhotep III, was peaceful, and Egypt once again became prosperous. A tale, (see “The Book of the Heavenly Cow”), from the perspective of Lower Egypt, developed around this experience of protracted war. In the tale following the war, Ra (representing the pharaoh of Upper Egypt) was no longer respected by the people (of Lower Egypt) and they ceased to obey his authority. The myth states that Ra communicated through Hathor’s third Eye (Maat) and told her that some people in the land were planning to assassinate him. Hathor was so angry that the people she had created would be audacious enough to plan that, that she became Sekhmet (war goddess of Upper Egypt) to destroy them. Hathor (as Sekhmet) became bloodthirsty and the slaughter was great because she could not be stopped. As the slaughter continued, Ra saw the chaos down below and decided to stop the blood-thirsty Sekhmet. So he poured huge quantities of blood-coloured beer on the ground to trick Sekhmet. She drank so much of it—thinking it to be blood—that she became drunk and returned to her former gentle self as Hathor.
Wife of Thoth
When Horus became identified as Ra in the changing Egyptian pantheon, under the name Ra-Horakhty, Hathor’s position became unclear, since in later myths she had been the wife of Ra, but in earlier myths she was the mother of Horus. Many attempts to solve this gave Ra-Horakhty a new wife, Ausaas, to solve this issue around who was Ra-Horakhty’s wife and Hathor became identified only as the mother of the new sun god. However, this left open the unsolved question of how Hathor could be his mother, since this would imply that Ra-Horakhty was a child of Hathor, rather than a creator. Such inconsistencies developed as the Egyptian pantheon changed over the thousands of years becoming very complex, and some were never resolved. In areas where the cult of Thoth became strong, Thoth was identified as the creator, leading to it being said that Thoth was the father of Ra-Horakhty, thus in this version Hathor, as the mother of Ra-Horakhty, was referred to as Thoth’s wife. In this version of what is called the Ogdoad cosmogeny, Ra-Herakhty was depicted as a young child, often referred to as Neferhor. When considered the wife of Thoth, Hathor often was depicted as a woman nursing her child. Since Seshat had earlier been considered to be Thoth’s wife, Hathor began to be attributed with many of Seshat’s features. Since Seshat was associated with records and with acting as witness at the judgment of souls in Duat, these aspects became attributed to Hathor, which, together with her position as goddess of all that was good, lead to her being described as the (one who) expels evil, which in Egyptian is Nechmetawaj (also spelled Nehmet-awai, and Nehmetawy). Nechmetawaj can also be understood to mean (one who) recovers stolen goods, and so, in this form, she became goddess of stolen goods. Outside the Thoth cult during these times, it was considered important to retain the position of Ra-Herakhty (i.e. Ra) as self-created (via only the primal forces of the Ogdoad). Consequently, Hathor could not be identified as Ra-Herakhty’s mother. Hathor’s role in the process of death, that of welcoming the newly dead with food and drink, lead, in such circumstances, to her being identified as a jolly wife for Nehebkau, the guardian of the entrance to the underworld and binder of the Ka. Nevertheless, in this form, she retained the name of Nechmetawaj, since her aspect as a returner of stolen goods was so important to society that it was retained as one of her roles. Hathor votive faience balls are usually associated with this deity although the precise significance of their relationship remains unknown.
In Egyptian mythology, Hesat (also spelt Hesahet, and Hesaret) was the manifestation of Hathor, the divine sky-cow, in earthly form. Like Hathor, she was seen as the wife of Ra.
Since she was the more earthly cow-goddess, Milk was said to be the beer of Hesat, a rather meaningless phrase as Hesat means milk anyway. As a dairy cow, Hesat was seen as the wet-nurse of the other gods, the one who creates all nourishment. Thus she was pictured as a divine white cow, carrying a tray of food on her horns, with milk flowing from her udders.
In this earthly form, she was, dualistically, said to be the mother of Anubis, the god of the dead, since, it is she, as nourisher, that brings life, and Anubis, as death, that takes it. Since Ra’s earthly manifestation was the Mnevis bull, the three of Anubis as son, the Mnevis as father, and Hesat as mother, were identified as a family triad, and worshipped as such.
Hathor outside the Nile river in Egypt
Hathor was worshipped in Canaan in the eleventh century BC, which at that time was ruled by Egypt, at her holy city of Hazor, or Tel Hazor which the Old Testament claims was destroyed by Joshua (Joshua 11:13, 21).
A major temple to Hathor was constructed by Seti II at the copper mines at Timna in Edomite Seir. Serabit el-Khadim (Arabic: سرابت الخادم) (Arabic, also transliterated Serabit al-Khadim, Serabit el-Khadem) is a locality in the south-west Sinai Peninsula where turquoise was mined extensively in antiquity, mainly by the ancient Egyptians. Archaeological excavation, initially by Sir Flinders Petrie, revealed the ancient mining camps and a long-lived Temple of Hathor. The Greeks, who became rulers of Egypt for three hundred years before the Roman domination in 31 BC, also loved Hathor and equated her with their own goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
4×06 – The Other Woman
Ariel is a fictional spirit who appears in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Ariel is bound to serve the magician Prospero, who rescued him from the tree in which he was imprisoned by Sycorax, the witch who previously inhabited the island. Prospero greets disobedience with a reminder that he saved Ariel from Sycorax’s spell, and with promises to grant Ariel his freedom. Ariel is Prospero’s eyes and ears throughout the play, using his magical abilities to cause the tempest in Act one which gives the play its name, and to foil other character’s plots to bring down his master.
The source of Ariel’s name and character is unknown, although several critics have pointed out his similarities to the Ariel mentioned in Isaiah chapter 29 in the Bible. The name means “Lion of the Lord”, in this sense. Ariel may also be a simple play on the word “aerial”. Scholars have compared him to sprites depicted in other Elizabethan plays, and have managed to find several similarities between them, but one thing which makes Ariel unique is the human edge and personality given him by Shakespeare.
Since the stage directions in The Tempest are so precise, critics and historians are better able to see how this play may have originally been performed than with other Shakespearean plays. Several of the scenes involving magic have clear instructions on how to create the illusion required, causing critics to make connections and guesses as to exactly what sort of technology would have been used in Shakespeare’s troupe to stage Ariel’s role in the play. Also, a line by Ariel in Act IV brings other scholars to ask questions as to whether the original actor for Ariel played the part for Ceres as well, due to a shortage of boy actors.
Ariel is widely viewed as a male character, although this view has wavered over the years, especially in the Restoration, when women played the role, for the most part. Ariel has also been involved, though lightly, in the debate over the colonialist nature of the play, as scholars have tried to determine how he compares to the more rebellious Caliban in terms of service to the European Prospero.
Role in the play
Ariel first appears in the second scene of the play to report to Prospero his success in carrying out his command to shipwreck the King of Naples and his crew in a violent tempest. Ariel adds that, as commanded, he saw that none of the group were harmed, but that all landed safely on the island, scattered and separated along the coast. After being praised by Prospero, Ariel pleads for his freedom from the magician’s service in return. Prospero declines, reminding him of the state he was in before Prospero rescued him: Ariel had been trapped by the witch Sycorax in a “cloven pine” as a punishment for resisting her commands. After 12 years of pain (and the death of Sycorax), Ariel was released from his prison by Prospero, who pressed the spirit into his service. The magician denies Ariel’s request for freedom at this time, but promises that on the condition he follows the rest of his commands, he will grant his wish in two days. For the rest of the play, Ariel is Prospero’s eyes and ears—spying on the shipwrecked sailors in invisible form, but only Prospero can see Ariel.
In the second act Ariel briefly appears to stop a conspiracy to kill Alonso, King of Naples, whose brother (and heir to Dukedom), Sebastian, plots to kill him in his sleep. Ariel sings in Alonso’s ear to wake him and foils the plot. Ariel also appears in Act Three to foil Caliban’s plot to turn the sailors against Prospero and murder him. Later in the same act, he appears with a clap of thunder and rebukes those who were involved in the plot to banish Prospero to the island, displaying his fearful power to the men. He is later called on to gather the spirits of the island before Miranda and Ferdinand, and to bring Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban before Prospero for judgment.
In the final act, Ariel releases the prisoners of Prospero and awakens what is left of the crew of the ship from a deep slumber. Thanks to Ariel’s work, Ferdinand and Miranda have fallen in love. Prospero is so impressed by Ariel’s matchmaking that he says that he would set Ariel free for that one act. Thus, having fulfilled Prospero’s tasks, and Prospero himself now being free to leave the island, Ariel is set free.